Alumni explore changes on campus

by Charles Davant | 11/3/94 6:00am

"You can get a good education somewhere else, but you can't get a better experience," Fritz Hier '44 said last night at a panel meeting of local alumni who discussed their Dartmouth years.

The panel, which consisted of alumni who graduated between 1929 and 1953, was moderated by Fred Berthold '45, who jokingly called the participants "eight old codgers."

Green Key Public Programs Chair Mary Tatman '96, who coordinated the event titled "An Oral History of Dartmouth College," said the panel's purpose was to "foster student contact with local alumni."

The sweeping changes that have taken place at Dartmouth during the last half century were a major topic of discussion.

Hier said he feels that the increase in student diversity is one of the greatest changes. "I appreciate and applaud the diversity we have now," he said.

The members of the panel also discussed campus political controversies.

The banning of the Indian mascot in 1972 was denounced by Charlie Dudley '29, who brought his father's 1902 Indian-head cane to the discussion. Dudley thinks the combination of 1960s radicalism and intra-tribal discord led the Board of Trustees to abandon "our Indian tradition."

Some panelists observed that the Greek system has changed since they were students.

"Things didn't go on that shouldn't. It [the system] went down a few years ago," Dudley said.

"We have been derelict ... letting fraternity members forget what is civility," said Don Gross '53, the house adviser for Theta Delta Chi.

Boyce Price '36 said in the 1930s "there was a lot less drinking."

Panelists were quick to point out what they consider Dartmouth's greatest attributes.

Gross praised the faculty and called the College's professors "the heart of Dartmouth." He said the faculty has helped students "not follow where the path may lead [but] go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Hier called the Dartmouth Outing Club "Dartmouth's crowning jewel" and praised the continuing emphasis on the out-of-doors.

Price echoed Hier, saying Dartmouth gave him an "abiding love of the outdoors."

Gordon Thomas '49 said of all the changes he has seen on campus, he is most impressed by the growth of facilities. He pointed out that in the late 1940s, hockey was played outside on natural ice even on the coldest days and that the Dartmouth Players performed in the attic of Robinson Hall.

Price said, "If the Hopkins Center had been completed, I don't think I would have graduated."

One tradition Thomas said he was happy to see die alongside inferior facilities was the anarchic freshman/sophomore football game, which he said caused as much injury as unity.

A similarly painful experience, according to Ed Chamberlain '36, was the absence of women. Chamberlain was instrumental in the passage of student government legislation that allowed students to have women in their dorm rooms from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. However, the men still had to register their guests and leave their doors open.

Rob Reno '38 said he spent a lot of his time at Dartmouth traveling to women's colleges.

Another social option Reno recalled was the tradition of "rushing the Nugget" in which a rowdy mob of men would force their way into the theater without paying. Intellectualism has increased since those days, he said.

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